Toledo firefighters to stay, but will police go?

Thursday's Toledo police union vote to reject the city's request for concessions and the altering of patrolmen contracts shows just how divided the police force has become.

"We don't need that division right now. We're about to come up on one of the most monumental fights that this union has encountered on Tuesday and we need everyone together on a strong front," said Toledo Police Patrolman's Association President Dan Wagner.

Sympathetic to Wagner's challenge to unite the troops is Local 92 President Wayne Hartford. The Toledo fire union leader successfully sold a very similar concessions package to his members Friday. "I think we hit a small stumbling block with the TPPA voting no. I wish them the best of all luck to work that out. Hopefully it will save police officers' jobs," said Hartford.

So where does the TPPA go from here? In a memo to Wagner on Thursday, Toledo Mayor Mike Bell shot down what he thought was the union's request for a re-vote. The police union says the words in his memo show a misunderstanding by Mayor Bell. They say they never requested for a re-vote, and instead asked for another meeting with the mayor in hopes of coming up with a new, different agreement. "We were simply extending an offer to the mayor to sit back down, see if there was another offer that we might be able to come up with to put in front of our membership," said Wagner.

However, with time running out for a re-vote or re-negotiations, it seems the only thing left to do is wait. Wagner says they will wait until next week to see if Toledo City Council will pass the exigent circumstances measure that would give the Bell administration ultimate power over union contracts. At least one council members, former TPPA President Michael Collins, has promised to vote no on that controversial measure. "I do not think that exigent circumstances is a viable alternative and the reason for it is there is no case law to my knowledge that supports it," said Councilman Collins.

Toledo City Council has until March 31 to approve a balanced budget proposed by Mayor Bell earlier this month. The proposal includes 125 layoff notices that have already been sent to Toledo Police officers, but have since been postponed indefinitely amidst talks of union concessions.